Q) Why do rough sleeper night shelters only open in the winter?
A) They cost too much to be open all year round is the only explanation!
Think on that for a second as it can be the ONLY answer and it stinks!
Over the last month or so social media has been ablaze with stories of homelessness and specifically rough sleepers with reports of people literally freezing to death in Birmingham, Belfast and Chatham. Such articles are so common that the general public have become inured to them!
The same social media and mainstream local media has been full of local mayors and other politicians saying (in light of the public outcry that homelessness only tends to get at Christmas) that we will open the night shelter IF the temperature reaches zero degrees rather than minus two degrees!
How fucking magnanimous!!
Why, in any civilised society, is it somehow acceptable to permit anyone to sleep rough at ANY time of year and regardless of the outside temperature?
It isn’t … yet that is precisely what we have for the majority of the year!
Leaving aside the virtues and efficacies of rough sleeper initiatives such as No SECOND Night Out (NSNO) that by definition mean at least 1 night and just 1 night in every 2 nights when you consider it correctly. Rough Sleeping on Monday? Oh ok we will find you a bed for Tuesday is what NSNO is in literal terms and the same rough sleeper can be back on the streets on Wednesday night.
Rather than focus on NSNO and its merits or lack of them, IF there are only 3500 or so rough sleepers across the UK – which is the alleged yet ridiculously low official figure – then surely the UK can afford to have a capacity to accommodate 3500 persons every night of the year?
We have reportedly 800,000 (or is it 1,000,000+) empty properties.
3500 out of a 65 million population is 0.0054% – a tiny percentage of the UK population that we fail.
3500 rough sleeper bedspaces across 400 local authorities in England Scotland and Wales is an average of every local council having just 9 bedspaces each!
Is that too much to ask? Or are we resigned to it being acceptable for people to have no roof and have to sleep outdoors and on the streets (or in barns and under hedgerows as rough sleeping is not just an inner city in shop doorways issue!)
It is an abomination that any person needs to sleep rough in the UK and wholly unacceptable that local councils are not mandated by law to accommodate them. Yet is the societal acceptance by the general public that it is ok to only open night shelters for a month or two during the winter just as big a problem?
Why does the public perceive it to be acceptable that anyone at any time should be allowed to sleep on the streets and under hedgerows?
UPDATE 2 January 2017
Guess what just popped up on my twitter timeline? Yes the exact same issue I have been talking about .. “As the temperatures have dropped again …”